The Word Factory

Daily broadsides from The Baffler's just-in-time corps of knowledge workers

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerMarch 24, 2017
Consider the gray dress shirt. / Gregg Tavares
Consider the gray dress shirt. / Gregg Tavares

Variety reports that actress Brie Larson will play Victoria Woodhull in an upcoming film. Woodhull, dutiful Baffler readers will note, was the first woman candidate for the American presidency (in 1872, forty years before women won the right to vote), and her exploits were chronicled in Jessa Crispin’s issue 32 salvo “Madam Prescient.” Perhaps Larson and her producers at Amazon Studios are heeding Crispin’s call to “remystify” our national politics.

If All You Have Is a Hammer

Sarah JaffeMarch 24, 2017
fanning photo 2
fanning photo 2

When you sign up, allegedly, to fight for freedom and democracy and you see nothing of that kind being practiced here in the United States, with the mass surveillance and the reach of agencies like the National Security Agency, etc., this is not what you put your life on the line for.

The Two Daves

Niela OrrMarch 24, 2017
Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle

Critics and comedy fans laud Dave Chappelle for his analysis of American race and social relations, yet his finest skill might be the way he manipulates time on the stand-up stage. You see it first in obvious ways—as, for example, in the contrast between his deliberate joke set up and his spontaneity.

Open Mike

Ben SchwartzMarch 23, 2017
Gage Skidmore
Gage Skidmore

It is with a heavy heart that I must report that Huckabee is at it again. That is, the ex-governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, has tweeted a new joke. Over the last year, Huckabee has gained a reputation as one Twitter’s high-profile joke writers.

Donald Trump and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Budget

Sarah JaffeMarch 22, 2017
Clara Donney, a recipient of Meals on Wheels, a program that faces cuts in Trump's proposed budget, with the U.S. Air Force member who delivered her Thanksgiving dinner. / U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen
Clara Donney, a recipient of Meals on Wheels, a program that faces cuts in Trump's proposed budget, with the U.S. Air Force member who delivered her Thanksgiving dinner. / U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen

One of the things that I am seeing, at least, is a lot of energy. People are energized particularly around healthcare. They are trying to reach out to their representatives. I live in a relatively small rural community and people are showing up at town hall meetings and giving their representatives an earful on these various priorities, like heating assistance for low-income folks, Meals on Wheels.

Critique in the Age of Trump

Maximillian AlvarezMarch 21, 2017
rob Walsh
rob Walsh

The world has, in many ways, become exponentially weirder and more unpredictable in the age of Trump. And this core set of derangements demand more imaginative and radical modes of thinking. Nevertheless, the forces of resistance share a natural, troubling impulse to fall back on bland sentiments and rhetoric that stuff political questions into old Manichean divides between good and evil, hypostatized “democracy” and fascism, conventional wisdom and stupidity.

Slumber of the UN Women

Rafia ZakariaMarch 21, 2017
John Gillespie
John Gillespie

Like the citizens of Pompeii centuries ago, everyone clapped, cheered, ate, and ignored portents of coming catastrophe at the beginning of the United Nations’s sixty-first convening of its Commission on the Status of Women in New York. The meeting, which started on March 13 and will continue until this upcoming Friday, March 24, is the largest inter-governmental forum on women’s rights and gender equality.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerMarch 20, 2017
Bernie campaign HQ in Eugene, Oregon
Bernie campaign HQ in Eugene, Oregon

As the Trump campaign’s links to Russia are finally investigated by the FBI, it’s worth reading Yasha Levine’s salvo “From Russia, with Panic,” in which he wrote about how the Democratic party and the media media signed off on the findings of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm whose founder Levine remembers from his work reporting on the 2008 Georgia-Russia war.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerMarch 17, 2017
An alt-right rendering of The Thinker / kan_deng00
An alt-right rendering of The Thinker / kan_deng00

Oh to be a fascist conservative pundit today. The possibilities, it seems, are endless. Here’s a few of our favorite right-wing revelations from the last few days:

Among Richard Spencer’s greatest hits is the dismissal of black Americans’ contributions with the zinger “White people could have figured out another way to pick cotton.” So you’d have expected to see a little egg on his face when Mother Jones reported today that “Spencer, along with his mother and sister, are absentee landlords of 5,200 acres of cotton and corn fields in an impoverished, largely African American region of Louisiana” and the recipient of $2 million in federal farm subsidies.

Whale Vomit: Syphilis, Baby

WV-13
WV-13

Amber and Sam rehash the news at home and abroad, from the Dutch election to the all-American Fat Leonard scandal, taking in along the way the great syphilis explosion of 2014 and George Orwell’s most romantic work, 1984.

So Much Bigger Than Standing Rock

Sarah JaffeMarch 17, 2017
Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network in the encampment at Standing Rock. / Sarah Jaffe
Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network in the encampment at Standing Rock. / Sarah Jaffe

The way that the camp started, first of all, was with the youth. They had a vision and a goal and a dream because of the fact that suicide rates in our communities are so high. It is so devastating that so many kids would rather kill themselves than deal with the hurt and the transgenerational trauma that has happened over the years.

Trump Trolls the Welfare State

Max B. SawickyMarch 17, 2017
Alek S.
Alek S.

The document released last Wednesday by the White House bears no resemblance to most budget documents of days gone by. It’s more like the last minute delivery of a late term paper by some sleep-deprived undergraduate. The text has been scanned into a PDF file, rather than printed to a file, so you can’t search it.